Making rum from scratch using molasses and sugar.
I wanted to make some rum so that I could make my own Captain Morgans Spiced Rum
you will need
1 x 25L fermentation vessel
a long spoon, you can get these from homebrew shops
yeast nutrient, you can substitute tomato puree for this if you have trouble getting hold of yeast nutrient.
4kg of molasses (blackstrap for choice) you can get this from ebay, horse feed molasses is perfect provided it has no additives, cost me about £10 from eBay
4kg white sugar
2 x 5g packets of EC-1118 Yeast, you can buy this online by a company called lavlin
a thermometer, I got a cheap digital one from eBay for about £2
a kitchen jug
some glass jars
and a big bucket or demi john to store the results.
Making sure you sterilize your equipment before you start, pour a couple of kettles full of boiling water in to your fermentor. add a bag at a time of the sugar, stirring as you add it in, keep stirring until its all dissolved then add the next one and do the same, keep doing it until all the sugar is dissolved. add in another kettle full of boiling water for good measure.
Ok now we need to weigh up and add out molasses, do this 1 KG at a time and stir it in to the mix as you go. top it up to about the 23L line with cold water add in about 25g of yeast nutrient.
So now we have 23L of wash ready we need to sort the yeast out. once the temperature gets down to about 28 degrees C, fill a jug with some of the mix. add in your 2 packets of EC-1118 Yeast and mix it in, then leave it for half an hour, come back every so often stir it. Once it has foamed up a bit, pour it back in to the main wash and stir it in.
Now we just need to ferment it out, making sure you have an airlock on the lid of the fermentor, put the lid on making sure its clipped down air tight. pop a label on it so you know when you started it. this should be kept at between 23 and 28 degrees C for the whole time its fermenting, so keep it somewhere thats not too cold, if you are having trouble keeping it between 23 and 28 degrees c you can use a 50w aquarium heater to maintain the temprature if it drops too low. you now need to wait until the air lock stops bubbling, which should be about 8 days maybe a day or 2 more, once it has stopped you can turn off the heater and move it to a cool place, it needs to be allowed to drop to 10 to 14 degrees C. this is so that the yeast settles on the bottom. Leave it for 2 days like this.
Depending on when your going to distill depends on what you do with the wash now, if you dont intend to use it just yet then you need to rack it in to another fermentor, what this means is siphon it out to a new vessel so that you leave the yeast behind. you can put this yeast in to a tub or bottle and pop it in the fridge for your next run of rum. or instead of racking it you can siphon it directly in to the boiler for your still, which is what I do. use a wine / beer siphon that way you wont pick up the yeast sediment from the bottom of the fermentor.
Now this is the moment of truth, fire up your boiler on half power, it will take a little longer to heat up this way, but slow is good for rum. Make sure you are using a Pot Still so you get the flavours, using a reflux still will strip out the flavours. IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE this part is very important, you should discard the first 100ml that comes out of the still, why are we doing this, because it has all the dangerous stuff in it like methanol and acetone. they say you can discard 50ml but I do 100ml for the sake of safety. DO NOT drink the first 100ml, throw it away, these are known as the fore-shots, you can keep it in a separate labeled bottle for cleaning stuff in your work shop. collect the distillate in 100 - 200 ml batches from here on out, it should be coming out at about 75% ABV (150 Proof), you will notice the first few lots are very strong in flavour, these are known as the heads. what comes out after that is the Hearts, the middle of the run and this is the bit we want, keep an eye on the ABV using a Hydrometer for spirits it should remain between 75% to 60% once it starts to hit about 50% I would start keeping it separately, these are called the tails. if its clear in colour then you could add them in to the main batch if its starting to go cloudy don't add them, keep them separate. now its up to you, you could add in the heads to the main batch if you want a stronger flavour. you should end up with around 3 and a half liters of about 75% distillate (white Rum)
Ok so you now have some high proof rum, before you drink it you need to water it down to about 40% ABV or 80 Proof here is a calculator to help with this once its watered down you can drink it in your fav cocktail. what you have now is a white rum, if you want a gold rum or a dark rum then you need to age it using charred oak sticks. You could even turn it in to a Spiced Rum like Captain Morgans Spiced Rum here is the method I used to do this and it works really well and tastes amazing. I made up the recipe on that page and added it to 750ml of 40% ABV (80 proof) White rum, and it was amazing.
Ok so due to the popularity of this instructable I thought I would add this part that I have done this evening. Gold and dark rum is aged in old whiskey or bourbon barrels which are charred on the inside, sometimes they use new charred barrels as well. why do they do this? well when you put a spirit in a charred barrel it absorbs the flavors and sugars from the oak. we can do this our selves without a barrel by using oak chips / sticks which you can buy from wine making stores or eBay. all we need to do is toast the sticks first this will caramelize the sugars in the wood, now the flavor you get from it depends on the temp in which you toast the wood. have a look at the diagram that I got from http://www.worldcooperage.com I'm going to use this for my spiced rum which needs the vanilla flavors, so I need to toast my sticks at about 400 degrees F which is about 204 degrees C so I preheat my oven to that temp. Now while that's heating up I wrap up the sticks in foil and once the oven is hot enough I pop them in the middle of the oven. I checked it after 1 hour and it didn't really seem very toasted but i did get a burst of vanilla when I opened the packet, I left them in for another hour and then took them out and they looked nicely toasted. Now I don't know what flavor is going to be best, toasted or charred so as an experiment I weighed and divided the sticks and then using a blow torch on low I charred up half of the sticks, char them do not burn them, remove the blow torch after a few seconds and blow out any flames, once you have charred one side turn them over., I put the charred in one bottle and the toasted in the other bottle with 1L of 60% ABV Rum. you don't want to age Rum or any other spirit at a higher ABV than that otherwise it could spoil the taste, if your spirit is higher than this then water it down. I mark up the 2 bottles with dates as well and I will leave them for about 1 month which should be enough time for them to pick up the flavors, also its important to shake them often, every day if possible. and thats it really once I have the flavor I want I would just strain out the chips and put it through a coffee filter for the small pieces and its done.